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Prep and Villa Students Are Sailing on the SSV Oliver Hazard Perry this week! **Updates and photos!
Posted 08/03/2018 07:18PM

Cathedral Prep & Villa Maria Academy students are on an unforgettable sailing adventure this week, August 2nd-August 9th. The students are learning to steer this 500-ton ship, visiting Cape Code, seeing whales breach over Stellwagon Bank, experiencing marine life, working as a team, and learning the language of the ship. Each trainee is assigned their own bunk and locker for the week and they are rotating shifts with the crew. This will truly be a memorable experience for all of our students!

We received the following update from Jessica Wurzbacher, Executive Director, Oliver Hazard Perry Rhode Island which includes a blog post from our very own students!

"Good morning, The trainees all successfully boarded the ship in Portsmouth, NH yesterday afternoon and after spending some time settling in and going through our orientation the ship left the dock and headed to the Isle of Shoals. Orientation and training continued into the evening and this morning as they prepare to get underway today and sail overnight to be in Gloucester late tomorrow afternoon.

Remember you are able to track the ship on our website at https://www.ohpri.org/track-the-ship/

The Yellow Brick program updates every 4 hours marking their position. You can also track the vessel through AIS at www.marinetraffic.com but please remember that this only operates while they are in VHF range. We do speak with the ship every day via satellite to get updates about their position, weather, operating conditions etc. so please do not be overly concerned if the ship's position is not always up to date.

It's going to be a great trip and I look forward to sharing the blogs and photos with you. Here is the first blog below

Day 1 – August 2, 2018

On a dark, dreary Erie night, Father Scott Jabo opened up the doors of Cathedral Prep. We all sat in the packed conference room, sweating with nerves and anticipation of our future journey we all were blindly walking into. After rounds of cards and many GoPro tutorials, we loaded the bus. Our kinked necks and strained backs for hours were gladly relieved by our first stop just past Buffalo. While we were stopped, we switched bus drivers, and continued on our way. We all gave it our good old attempt to sleep through the night to get the rest we knew we needed for this physically demanding trip.

Upon arrival to the port where the Tall Ship Oliver Hazard Perry was docked, we were met with the intense heat and humidity. To board the boat, we had to climb a ladder and pass our bags up. After we got settled in, we met the crew, only to ask for our phones and medications (NO SCREENS FOR A WEEK!). The crew had to teach us different procedures and methods of how to live while on the ship in the event of an emergency. Tomorrow, the crew will go into further detail, as we will be doing all of this practice in a hands on setting. Dinner hit the spot, thanks to Jen whipping goulash and a fresh salad. After dinner, many of us took short cat naps, others played the Peter Paul clapping game, or some were a part of C-watch's clean up duty, ranging from cleaning the mats and scrubbing the pots and pans. After this break, we all met the rest of the crew. Many came from interesting backgrounds, one of which being John F. spending years in Alaska and being a part of the Coast Guard. His story caught all of our eyes. We soon dispersed into our watches, learning the details of the grind during the midnight hours in which we will be covering. Rest and relaxation is much needed after sleeping maybe 5 of the 48 hours this trip has consumed of us. We are all looking forward to the days ahead and are excited for what our sailing futures have in store.

Signing off,

Prep-Villa Sailors

(Maria D, Lauren B, Chloe R, Jack K & Emma S)

Day 2 – August 3, 2018

Ahoy Mateys! This is A-Watch reporting for duty! This morning we were awakened to the delicious smell of pancakes in the air accompanied by crackling bacon in the frying pan. Chef Jen was ready to take on a horde of starving shipmates. It was divine!

After breakfast, A-Watch mustered midships to begin our watch 0800-1200. During these hours we learned how to belay a line, sweat a line, and castaway the line. After this we all climbed aloft on the main mast. Regarding the view from the "fighting top" (aka the treehouse) Jack Kloecker, an upcoming junior at Cathedral Prep says "Ocean. Endless amounts of oceans. Waves. Endless amounts of waves." The view was absolutely breathtaking, something none of us will forget. In addition to this, Tacha taught us about the squares'l and the stays'l. At first it was difficult to understand, but Steve quickly caught us up. We also practiced safety drills such as what to do in event of a fire, man overboard, and abandonment of the ship. We passed every drill with flying colors.

Our highlight of the day was jumping off of the ship into the ocean for a "swim call." The height was scary to some, but eventually everyone jumped in. Little to our knowledge, the water was absolutely freezing.

While some went to bed for the night, others kept watch. We avoided some rain and are now headed off to bed. Tomorrow morning we will wake up at 0330 to begin the 0400-0800 watch shift with group leaders Mr. Wheeler, John F., and Sam D.

Signing off for the night,

Maddie, Emma F. P., Steve, Jack, Andrew, Alex, Ellie, Jasmine, Abby, and Laurel.

Day 4 – August 5, 2018

After a long night of laughs and anchor watches, we all slept sound and woke up to a great breakfast of French toast, made by Jen and her junior chefs. After stuffing ourselves, we all piled onto the small boats and ventured into Gloucester's adorable downtown. We were given the liberty of walking around the area in small groups. After walking around for a while, we stumbled into a place us Villa girls (plus Joe) may call our second home... DUNKIN DONUTS! Let's just say the iced coffees went quite well with the ham and turkey sandwiches we made for lunch. Not only did us humans think the sandwiches were good, the local seagulls also thought our sandwiches were quite delightful.

Lauren, Maria, Ellen, Madeline and Chloe were sitting in front of the police station eating their lunches peacefully in a beautifully landscaped area. Minding her own business, Chloe sets down her sandwich, reaches into her bag to grab chips, and BAM! a seagull swoops down and snatches her sandwich followed by a number of screams. Once one bird came, twenty came after it. Running and screaming, the only person who seemed to keep calm was the bird whisperer herself; Ellen. Calming the storm with her bird clicks and majestic hand gestures, she yet again saved the day. Our only casualty was Chloe's sandwich, RIP Hammy.

In Gloucester, we went to the 1145 mass at Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish, one of the most gorgeous churches we have ever seen. The whole experience was truly breathtaking. One of the neatest parts about the whole thing was how locally charming this building was. The Mary statues were scattered everywhere. In each statue Mary was not only holding baby Jesus, she was also holding a tall ship in her other arm, SO INTERESTING! Not only were the statues in tune with the nautical features of the area, but the stain glass windows kept in touch with the overall theme of the church (the community also gave us a little shout out welcome prior to the service). Our priest was from Africa, which made mass a little difficult to understand, but we all got past it and gave it our all to piece together the homily. After mass, we piled into the small boats and ventured on home to the ship.

Once we returned to the ship, along with a few little gifts for some of the crew members, we all assumed we would return to our normal watch rotations when the captain suddenly announced that we would be raising almost all the sails aboard the ship! Filled with excitement, intimidation and slight annoyance due to the fact it was quite hot out at that time, we rushed midships to receive our orders to prepare the vessel to sail. After a full on hour of scaling, climbing, pulling, pushing, sweating, hauling and doing everything in between, we finally succeeded in raising all the sails we were supposed to. Proud and exhausted, we returned to the mess to grab a quick drink and recover for the rest of our watches for the evening. We were all greeted with a beautiful sunset to end another beautiful day aboard our humble ship, and we all wait eagerly now to reach Boston for some great shopping and even more bonding. We are now half way though our trip, but things are only getting better from here! Watch C is signing off for now, partly because the day is over but mostly because we have to wake up at 0400 hours for watch. But it's totally fine because we cannot wait to see the stars! Catch you all later!

Signing off,

Watch C: Emma S, Maria D, Lauren B, Tom and Andrew C, and Joseph A

Day 5 – August 6, 2018

How would we describe day 5? Well...

We were awoken to the smell of fried eggs, bacon, and delicious homemade biscuits, made by the one and only Joe! After breakfast, Jasmine, Andrew, Maddie, and Mr. Sam were on breakfast cleanup duty. To start things off, we washed all of the dishes and listened to music with a wide variety of genres. After what seemed like an endless amount of dishes, we cleaned the counter tops and took the galley mats upstairs to be washed. While this was happening, we swept the mess and started to mop it afterwards.

As the four of them were working hard cleaning, the rest of A watch was looking after the ship from 0800-1200. The original plan was to go around the east side of Cape Cod, South of Nantucket and up through the Cape Cod Canal and Buzzards Bay up to Boston, but the weather had other plans for us. The weather quickly changed from beautiful blue skies to an abundant amount of fog. To warn oncoming boaters, the fog horn was running every two minutes for hours, scaring all of us each time. You would think we would have gotten used to it but psyche, there it was again.

To pass time, most of A watch and some members of C watch played 'Things that...' which is similar to Cards Against Humanity. All of us had a blast and could not stop laughing at some of our answers. The game became more enjoyable when Sam, John R. (AKA Drake Bell lookalike), and Ben joined in with us. They quickly caught on to the name of the game and surprised us with all of their answers, as "true wit comes with age."

After the game, most of us went back to our bunks to take a quick nap before our next watch. Maddie was awoken to the sound of a fog horn, which terrified her so much that she woke Jasmine up and ran to see what it was.

Our watch from 6-8pm went by like a breeze, literally. The wind picked up a great deal and the waves were splashing everyone on bow lookout...not cool, Poseidon...We laughed even more than before and were shortly relieved by B watch.

Signing off until Ben lets us write another blog,

Maddie, Ellie, Jasmine, Andrew, Sam, and Steve

Day 6 – August 7, 2018

It's B watch takeover time. Get ready for the best blog of the week! We have so much to tell everyone so let's get started!

The highlights of today consisted of furling the sails, steering at the helm, doing boat checks, cleaning the mess, and so much more. B watch's favorite part was climbing to the t'gallant (100+ feet high) to furl the sail. While we were up in the clouds, there was even a huge Great White Shark sighting just off the port beam! The view from the yard is always beautiful, but the Great White was a special bonus. Although being aloft gave us great views, it also sent Nathan's wrist watch for a swim. He must've been holding on too tight, like the rest of us. Olivia even held on with her arms and legs in a fetal position the entire time.

Later in the day, Ellen, Tori, and Siyu decided being aloft wasn't a good enough workout and chose to do an even harder cardio workout under the blazing sun on deck. Our crew kept us going and motivated by joining us along the way. They didn't last very long. After an hour, the girls cooled off by taking a deck shower. Most of the girl crew followed their lead and took in the beautiful ocean while lathering up.

Although night watches can be tiring, they come with a beautiful silver lining; the night sky. From shooting stars to planets and even a picture-perfect view of the Milky Way, it's hard to believe it's the same sky we look up at in Erie. Not only are the stars beautiful, we were even able to use them to navigate towards Boston Harbor.

Well that's a wrap to another perfect day. Next time we talk, we will be in Boston!!

Ellen, Tori, Olivia, Maddie, Maria, and Jess


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